Lakes, rivers and bays seem to call out for enjoyment on a beautiful day, but with social distancing in force, is this luxury still possible to safely enjoy? “As the country prepares to reopen slowly, we want people to enjoy Lake Oconee to its fullest, even during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Heather Cantrell, owner of Freedom Boat Club at Lake Oconee. “Following strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have adapted our check-in and check-out routines to fully sanitize our boats before and after each use and maintain safe social distancing guidelines at all times.”
The diligence of Freedom Boat Club’s crew is evident and appreciated by members. Cantrell’s trained team puts safety first and complies with CDC recommendations without hesitation. “We are delighted that our club boats are being used to give families the fresh air outings they all need right now,” Cantrell says. Some of the club’s boats are pet-friendly as well.
“Self-isolation and confinement are challenging everyone’s patience,” she says. “A relaxing cruise or fishing on the water refreshes our spirits and washes away the worries of the day. Boating is an important escape for families to make new memories in a difficult time.”
What Exactly is Freedom Boat Club?
Freedom Boat Club is a membership-only organization that allows members the use of club-owned and maintained late model pontoon boats, deck boats, sport and ski boats, fishing boats and personal watercraft on a reservation-only basis.
Founded in 1989 in Sarasota, FL, it is the oldest and largest boat club in the nation. Corporate President John Giglio states, “The vision and purpose in establishing the boat club model was simple and straightforward: to provide an affordable option to boat ownership and to deliver a hassle-free recreational boating experience for its members.”
With a variety of membership plans available, members may make future reservations at all reciprocal clubs. Cantrell points out, “When our nation’s travel restrictions ease, Freedom Boat Club opportunities will continue to enhance business events and vacation travel for our members.”
Thinking about Boating in a National or State Park?
Though Freedom Boat Clubs do not operate within national parks, additional boating regulations do apply. According to the National Park Service (NPS), “The National Park Service is modifying its operations on a park-by-park basis in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities. While most facilities and events are closed or canceled, outdoor spaces in some parks remain accessible to the public. Before visiting, please check with individual parks regarding changes to park operations. If you choose to visit a national park, please ensure that you follow CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and practice Leave No Trace principles. Updates about the NPS response, including safety information, are posted here.”
Each state also maintains its own state park information page with up to date information on closures and usage regulations.